First I’d like you to know I’m resisting the urge to make comments about the ‘tools’ we have working onsite, you’re welcome. I’ll keep to the tools we find in the ground. As glorious as hordes of flakes are, what really pleasing are scrapers, projectile points/arrowheads, borers, spokeshaves, wedges, drills, etc. I’ve noticed that most of the archaeologists on site, even if in the middle of a completely different conversation, will make an ‘ooooo’ sound if randomly handed a pretty tool. I’ve tried testing this with various people and it’s actually quite hilarious.
But back to the tools, because they can tell us a bit more about what is going on in an occupation layer (what activities they’re doing, time period, etc.), they get treated a little differently. Once a tool has been identified – this usually means we’ve plucked it out of the ground examined it, passed it around and then put it back in the ground and pretended like we didn’t just pick it up, it gets entered into the record.
It gets mapped in place within the unit and then photographed – usually in-situ and then on its information tag. For the points, we then take them and pour over various books and do scientific things like see which picture they match up best with. For some of the points we know instantly what they are, but every point isn’t perfect, some have been modified into different tools or resharpened into different shapes. And sometimes the point is from an under-represented time period that we just don’t get to see very often.
Usually though we can sleuth it out and it helps add one more piece to the puzzle and our understanding of the occupation periods on site.